Vaccines are well known to be highly useful for preventing serious diseases. Whether it be to prepare for travel, the onset of a new flu season or a scheduled vaccination for children, vaccines are necessities throughout our lives.
Although we have an awareness of vaccines – particularly those that dread the thought of being injected with a syringe – understanding what a vaccination actually contains can often be unclear. In this blog, Team Med demonstrates what a vaccine might contain, and how these ingredients are useful.
What are vaccines?
Vaccines are made up of minute traces of weak or dead germs that cause disease. These traces may be made up of viruses, bacteria, or any number of other potentially dangerous toxins. Because these are present in small quantities, white blood cells in the body have a much simpler time fighting the disease than they otherwise would have.
Vaccines are not just made up of these germs, however. There are a variety of additives that can create stronger and more long-lasting vaccines, keeping you healthier for longer. All of these additives pass through rigorous testing and approval by Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) before they are allowed to be made available to the public – the Australian Health Department even states that some vaccines take up to 10 years to be legally registered.
What are the other additions found in vaccines?
Other additions to vaccines serve a wide range of functions, from acting as preservatives, to prolonging the longevity of protection from certain diseases. Below we list some of the most commonly used vaccine adjuncts (bear in mind that these are not added to all vaccines).
- Adjuvants aid immune systems in responding more vigorously to a vaccine, thereby increase long-term immunity. They achieve this by imitating molecules the body recognises as pathogens, despite not being harmful. Aluminium is currently the most common adjuvant used in vaccines today.
- Preservatives are used to protect vaccines from bacteria or fungus that can enter a vial when it is opened. It takes few of these germs to compromise a vial, which makes preservatives important in many cases. Vaccines containing only a single dose typically do not require preservatives. Controversy has surrounded the antifungal preservative thimerosal due to perceived ties to autism, although these claims have been proven to be scientifically unsubstantiated.
- Stabilisers help active ingredients in vaccines function while the vaccine itself is being produced, stored, and moved. Stabilisers are necessary to manage external conditions such as temperature fluctuations. Sugar and gelatine are common stabilisers used in vaccines.
There are also other ingredients added to the vaccines development process that are no longer required for the vaccine to work in a human. As a result, these are removed at the end of production. These can include:
- Cell culture material used to help grow vaccine antigens. These might include eggs, among other things.
- Inactivating ingredients used to weaken or kill viruses, bacteria, or toxins in the vaccine to make them safe for application. Formaldehyde is a common ingredient.
- Antibiotics used to prevent foreign germs and bacteria from growing in the vaccine. Neomycin is a common antibiotic.
Considering vaccines for the future
Vaccines are one of the most important medical measures that humans have access to and have been responsible for the containment of debilitating diseases such as polio in addition to yearly flu epidemics.
If you require vaccines, whether it be for flu, rabies, typhoid or more, Team Med has an excellent range at highly affordable prices. Make sure to check our range today, and don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team with any questions.